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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        14  March 2011

New Cambodian stock exchange to use riel

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Cambodia will use its local currency, the riel, for trading on its soon-to-be-launched stock exchange, officials said, in a bid to boost the use of the riel in the heavily dollarized country.

Stock quotations must be in riel only, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC) said in a statement on its Web site, ending a debate about whether listings on the bourse, set to open in July, should be in riel, US dollars or a combination of both.

But for the first three years, “if buyers and sellers both agree, then they can arrange to settle payments in US dollars,” said Chan Narith, director of the SECC’s securities market supervision department.

Cambodia has a long-term goal to reduce reliance on the greenback, which according to the Asian Development Bank makes up more than 90 percent of all currency in circulation in the country.

The country signed an agreement in 2008 with representatives from South Korea’s stock exchange, the Korea Exchange, Asia’s fourth-largest bourse operator, to establish a stock market in 2009, but the launch date for the new market has been pushed back twice.

While still one of the world’s poorest countries, Cambodia has emerged from decades of conflict as a rising regional economy.

Cambodia remains a largely cash-only economy, and many people hoard their money at home instead of using banks.

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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